January 25, 2013
This week we’re going to take a look at a few of the top amateur arms coming out of New Jersey this draft season. Not too long ago, the Garden State produced a first round pick named Mike Trout. While none of the fruit is nearly as ripe this season, there are several juicy options for teams to feast on this spring. Chris Oakley, Jesse Roth, and Rob Kaminsky are are all New Jerseyans, and they all have a chance to make a mark on the game. Here’s a video of each of them throwing at this past August’s East Coast Pro Showcase:
Chris Oakley is a giant. He’s 6’8” and knows how to use his body. The delivery is effortless, and Oakley’s long levers allow him to generate plus velocity with his fastball. He sat in the low 90s and touched 95 at East Coast Pro, and his relatively high arm angle allowed him to generate good plane on the ball. Oakley will also show a very promising curveball that sits in the mid-to-upper 70s with excellent depth. The pitch has plus potential, and it should improve the more he throws it. He’s shown a change-up, but the offering isn’t nearly as advanced as his others. Oakley notes that the biggest adjustment he needs to make is “establishing more consistency with [his] two off-speed pitches.”
This spring, Oakley will take the mound for St. Augustine Prep in Egg Harbor, NJ. Next spring, he could take his talents to Chapel Hill, where he has a commitment to North Carolina. “UNC was the first school I visited, and it immediately reminded me of my high school setting," he said. "I fell in love with the campus and everything it had to offer baseball-wise and academically. And from the day I visited there, I knew I wanted to go to school there.”
He has some athleticism and shows good feel for pitching, but Oakley will need to refine his skills to maximize his potential. More innings will mean more opportunity to sharpen his repertoire and more consistently attack hitters with his weapons. His game isn’t perfect, but Oakley is a potential first-round pick this June.
Jesse Roth is loaded with potential. This summer, Roth showed off a very quick arm and strong athleticism. His four-seam fastball sits in the upper 80s and tops out at 91. Roth has a two-seamer that plays well off the four-seamer, and he can get strong run on the pitch. His circle change sits in the low 80s with excellent fade, and it could be a plus pitch down the line. Roth also has an 11-to-5 curveball that has some depth and could be a useful offering if he can tighten and command it. There’s room to fill on his 6’3”, 185-lb. frame, and that, along with the liveliness of his arm, suggests that there might be more velocity in the tank. The delivery is smooth, but Roth will need to get better at repeating his delivery to maximize his command, which is already at least average.